Anji Bai Cha (or “Anji White Tea“,安吉白茶) is a green tea produced from a particular “Anji Bai Cha” tea cultivar native to Anji county in the Zhejiang province of China. When we usually speak of “white tea”, we refer to either a Bai Mu Dan (White Peony) or a Silver Needle white tea. Anji Bai Cha is none of these. In fact being processed as a green tea and showing all the characteristics of such, it derives its name “white tea” from the shiny white color of its buds with only a light touch of green that will turn to darker green only by the end of April. Anji Bai Cha Green Tea is therefore harvested best before this, for a period of no more than 30 days only.
For 900 years, the Anji Bai Cha tea cultivar, being described by the Chinese emperor and passionate tea scholar Song Hui Zong (1101 to 1125 A.D.) in his book “Da Guan Cha Lun” (“The Treatise of Tea”), existed only as a legend. Only in 1982, a single specimen of a tea bush was discovered in Anji county, Zhejiang province that researchers believe might be the tea plant that had already been described as rare by Song Hui Zong at that time. It was named Anji Bai Cha for the white color of its spring buds and has been bred and commercially cultivated since. The name Anji Bai Cha has been protected, though, for tea from this particular tea cultivar and the Anji county geographic location, so it is still a “raritea” today, with especially properly timed harvests of high picking standard producing a true jewel within the world of green teas that every green tea connoisseur will highly value. In fact, China choose Anji Bai Cha Green Tea to represent the country for the 2010 World Culture Exposition in Shanghai.
Our Anji Bai Cha Green tea/Anji White Tea comes from a semi-wild (biodiversity) high mountain tea garden with several small ponds, many different trees and mountains around it, where organic cultivation principles are adhered to and no pesticides and/or fertilizer is used. It is picked only once during the first half of April each year – when the buds are still white – with a picking standard of 1 bud plus 1-2 leaves and gently processed to green tea in the traditional way.
During processing, the fresh picked white buds and leaves take on a pale yellowish green color after withering and stir-fixing and are then rolled into the form of tight pine-shaped needles before drying. The dried leaves still clearly show the natural leaf pattern. The aroma of dry Anji Bai Cha tea leaves displays a fresh and clean, high floral fragrance with a charming orchid aroma of the ready prepared infusion, perfectly matching the tea’s super fresh, delicate and soothing sweet taste, rounded up by a hint of a asparagus “veggie” note and a clear and refreshing high citrus flavor.
As for health-relevant properties, studies showed that Anji Bai Cha Green tea is particularly low in chlorophyll and polyphenols (explaining the white color of the young buds), but with 7-11 % show an extremely high percentage of amino acid, of which at least 2,5 % are found to be theanine, a multifold of the theanine content otherwise typically contained in green teas. Theanine is said to be mainly responsible for the soothing effects and full-bodied taste of fresh green tea and is considered as one of the most important citeria for the assemssment of a tea’s quality.
To get the best of your Anji Bai Cha Green Tea, pour 250ml water of 80-85°C temperature (somewhat higher than otherwise common for green tea, due to low bitters) on about 5g of Anji Bai Cha Green Tea leaves and let infuse for 2-3 minutes. Though displaying most of its special freshness, high citrus notes and delicate fragrance only in the first infusion, this green tea will readily produce a worthy second infusion, or even more, if prepared Gong Fu Cha style, with accordingly shorter infusion periods.